Kayaking the Etowa River, GA

Company: Kayak Guy Atlanta
Location: Etowah River
Start Location: River Park – Georgia 9,GA 30534
End Location: Kelly Bridge Canoe and Kayak Launch -Dawson County GA 30534
Fees: No fees at Hwy 9 but Kelly Bridge has a 3$ parking fee (Stop at gate to get parking envelope)
Rapids: Class I-II
Distance: 3 – 3 1/2  hour (9.5 miles)

I really enjoyed this tour, it was a scenic and peaceful trip but we had some semi-strong currents. The area we Kayak had some light rapids so you know i went for it… WELLL guess what!!! I flipped my kayak lol. Here is the step by step of how it happen. Once i brought the kayak into the current, it took me towards the right side of the river so i started paddling on my left side so i can counteract the current… then a tree caught my paddle at the top so before I know it my upper buddy was vertical with the paddle and the tree branch, the bottom part of my body and the kayak were pulled towards my right. I tried to hold on to the kayak as i had a small cooler inside and other stuff but quickly realized i needed to let it go. One of the people in the tour grabbed the kayak, someone else got the cooker and i just let the current take me then i walked to a small island. No lie that was the best part!!!

Wait wait I lie, previous to that we where looking for the Bear Foot Falls, we saw a ramp and thought we had passed it so we all started paddling against the current but only one person made it, I was close but the current was too strong and we gave up on that idea. To our surprise we ended up finding it a bit further down. We parked our kayaks then went up to see the waterfall. MUST SEE if you get a chance. On our way back to the kayaks, I got stung by a yellow jacket 3 times. No lie, I freaked out!! I have tons of allergies, fortunately I am not allergic to yellow jackets but the bumps lasted a few weeks.


Climbing Bear Foot Falls


Kayaking the Etowa River, GA


Kayaking the Etowa River, GA













Dawson Forest is a 10,130-acre state forest with a trail system open to the public. The property also encompasses Amicalola Creek which flows over Amicalola Falls within Amicalola Falls State Park.

This property was the site of the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory (GNAL). In 1971, it was purchased from Lockheed. An area of 3 acres (12,000 m2) previously occupied by GNAL was restricted following 1978 testing which found residual nuclear radiation from the experiments performed there. Subsequent studies in 1991 and 1997 found radiation levels to be at or slightly above normal background radiation levels.

It was intended and retained by the city as a potential site for Atlanta’s second airport, however in late summer 2009 it was made known that part may be used for the Shoal Creek Reservoir, a reservoir that would send water mainly to the city of Atlanta system, at its water works in Sandy Springs. However, this 38-mile (61 km) pipeline would result in an interbasin transfer from the Etowah River to the Chattahoochee River, which is currently prohibited by the metro Atlanta water district, and would leave less water in Lake Allatoona. Additionally, Alabama has sued to stop nearly everything Georgia has tried to do with the upstream water supply.

The Forest is managed using guidelines from the Dawson Forest Stewardship Management Plan. This Plan designates practices to be applied to each forest stand for the next 30 years. The strategic placing of all these management practices across the Forest over time is done to increase the diversity of the Forest and to increase the quality of habitat for several wildlife species. The Plan also designates many areas to be only – “protected”. Funding for care and management of the Forest is provided by the owner, the City of Atlanta. All incomes received from the Forest are returned to the City.

Learn more about Dawson Forest

River Levels:

  • Below 4 feet = Low, Allow Extra Time
  • 4 to 7  feet =  Optimal
  • Above 7 feet = Watch for deadfall – downed trees

The falls are located approximately 5 miles in to the trip. You will need to look for a rope swing (river left) hanging from a large tree on a steep bank just beyond a small creek. As you climb up the bank, you’ll see a clearing and a fire ring.  Follow the trail parallel to the stream on you left leading away from the river for about a 1/4 mile and you’ll find the base of the falls. It is worth stopping to view the falls even if you are not camping.

Info from CampNPost